SSCs (as they are known in dundee) or SSMs (as they can be known as at other unis) are something which you’ll do regardless of your university. They stand for Student Selected Components (at dundee) but can also be Self Selected Components, or Student Selected Modules.
I can’t really speak for what they’re like at other unis, but I’ll explain what happens at Dundee.
In 1st year, you choose a year long SSC. You pick the projects you would like to do and the medical school then try to allocate you one of them (usually your 1st or 2nd choice), research it and write a short essay on it (around 1500-2000 words from memory), which, over a year, isn’t a huge ask. My essay was on antibiotic resistant bacteria, which, as you can probably see if you click the ‘hot topic’ tag in the tag cloud, I’ve become quite interested in.
In 2nd and 3rd year, you get 2 x 4 week blocks of ‘SSC time’ one just after you come back from winter holidays, and one after the end of year exams. In these years you can select your top projects from a list, as before, or alternatively, if you have a specific interest you can Self-Propose and SSC – dubbed SPSSC. Given that you have 8 weeks in total of SSC time through the year, you can choose to do an 8 week project, 2 x 4 week projects or 4 x 2 week projects, or a mix of these, bringing the total to 8 weeks. I hope that makes sense.
In second year I did a 4 week SSC just after the christmas holidays called “Dr and Nurse as a teacher” which was brilliant – we got to work with nursing students to be taught how to teach and then go out to local primary schools in Dundee and teach them about how to be healthy etc as part of their syllabus. I loved it and it was really rewarding. Your assessment in these SSCs really depends on what SSC you do – here it was a reflective essay and an oral presentation. For my second block (after the end of year exams) I did 2 x 2 week SSCs, the first was on Allergic Rhinitis (ENT related) which was good and my second was on something called TRP Receptors (pharmacology related) which I also, surprisingly, enjoyed.
In third year I did 2 x 4 week SSCs – the first was called “an introduction to radiology” which I’ve decided isn’t for me and my next was a self-proposed SSC – An audit on safe prescribing on paediatrics, which I’ve mentioned a couple of times before on this blog.
I guess you’ll probably want to know what some of the other topics are that you can choose from the list of SSCs. I’m sure there’ll be one or two that interest you when the time comes, although if not, you can always self-propose. Either way, I dont think knowing what SSCs are available will make-or-break you coming to dundee, but for reference, here’s a few other SSCs I can remember:
Reproductive technologies (Assisted Conception)
Dissection of the temporal bone (neurosurgery)
Perinatal mental health
There are actually hundreds so I could never remember them all, I just remember some my friends did.
You also do an SSC in 5th year, but I have no idea how they work as of yet. I’ll find out soon enough though from friends I’m sure.